CD is a world record: the first recording ever of a work for handbells and orchestra. Peeter Vähi’s Handbell Symphony is a masterful blending of the brilliant yet relatively soft qualities of handbells with the rich colors available in the modern orchestra. This extremely successful collaboration yields a very interesting and listenable piece. The three movements of Handbell Symphony manage to use the bells very idiomatically and yet also create a “new” idiom by combining them with orchestra. It definitely is an amazing first. (Jason Tiller, USA)
|1–3||Peeter Vähi||Handbell Symphony||26:06|
|4||Johann Sebastian Bach||Pastorale||4:14|
|5||Franz Schubert||Ave Maria||4:33|
|6||Trad, arr by B Wayne Bisbee||A German Music Box||1:55|
|7||Johann Strauss||Radetzky March||3:31|
|8||Karen Laney Buckwalter||Soliloqui||7:02|
|9||Georg Friedrich Händel||Passacaglia||5:13|
|10||Trad, arr by Mary Kay Parrish||Joy To The World||3:03|
Published by: Antes Edition / Edition 49 (1–3), Hope Publishing Company (4 & 5), Harold Flammer (6–8), Beckenhorst Press (9), American Guild of English Handbell Ringers (10)
Recorded at the Estonia Concert Hall
Stereo, Total time 59:05
Antes Edition / Classics
1997 Bella Musica Audio-VideoProduction
Handbell Symphony, Movement II, fragm, 88 sec, mp3
Bells and chimes are probably the oldest instruments that many Asian and European nations knew already in ancient ages. The music of handbells is not the invention of last centuries, either. The roots of these musical instruments date back to 13th-14th cent when it was not rare that differently tuned church bells called people to the service playing beautiful melodies. Sometimes there was used carillon – bell-ringing mechanism in which a manual keyboard (and often pedals) is connected by wires to the beaters of up to 70 static bells. The bells are usually hung in church tower. Carillons are found throughout Europe and the USA, mechanized carillons were the forerunners of musical clocks and boxes, also forerunners of handbells and handchimes.
Arsis Handbell Ensemble was grown up from Arsis Chamber Choir – when the conductor of chamber choir, Aivar Mäe heard handbell music in the USA for the first time, it became his fixed idea to bring this wonderful music also to Estonia, thus founding his own ensemble. It was the year 1991. It took two years explanatory work and preparations in both sides of the world and the idea became reality. In 1993 the representatives of the American Guild of Handbell Ringers visited Estonia, and brought the first three octaves of bells as a present to Aivar Mäe and his choir. By now Arsis Handbell Ensemble has one of the most perfect sets in the world that includes bells of seven octaves. All the handbells in the set have been made in the USA, Malmark Incorporation bell factory with whom Arsis has been co-operating already since 1993. The ensemble, having eight members, has toured in different places of the world. One of the most exotic places was the Republic of South Africa where Arsis participated in Eisteddfod festival and was awarded the Grand Prix. Already for four times Arsis has visited the USA where the handbell music is most widely spread.
The ensemble is playing mostly arrangements of classical music but also a lot of original music. They have given out five CDs that include original works by Peeter Vähi, Tõnu Kõrvits, and René Eespere.
Aivar Mäe (b 1960) – the artistic director of Arsis Handbell Ensemble. He acquired his musical education at Tallinn Music High School and Estonian Academy of Music where he studied choral conducting with Prof Ants Sööt. Aivar Mäe has been working with several choirs in Estonia as well as abroad – in Sweden and the USA. He has been the leader of international choir festivals, also running seminars for choral music. In 1992, Aivar Mäe studied in the USA for a year and a half improving his knowledge at the music department of Portland University with Prof Bruce Brown. Since 1999, he has been working as the general manager of Eesti Kontsert, the National Concert Institute of Estonia, 2004–2006 as the general manager of Vanemuine Theatre, and 2009–2020 the general manager of the Estonian National Opera.
Other recordings with Arsis Handbell Ensemble: Om Mani Padme Hung, Traumzeit, Supreme Silence, Awake, My Heart!, The Flutish Kingdom, In Dies, World Festival Of Sacred Music Europe, Planetentöne Vol 2, Night Music, Music Box, Legend, Terra Mariana, Prelude, The Best of Arsis Bells
See other records of Peeter Vähi: Maria Magdalena, In the Mystical Land of Kaydara, Hommage à brillance de Lune, A Chant of Bamboo, Supreme Silence, To His Highness Salvador D, 2000 Years after the Birth of Christ, Tamula Fire Collage, The Path to the Heart of Asia, Sounds of the Silver Moon, Quarter of a Century with Friends